Dear Annie: I am 60 years old and feel that I have accomplished next to nothing. The only worthwhile things are my husband, two children and a lovely granddaughter. They are the lights of my life.
I was let go from a previous job for something I didn’t do. My current job is awful, and it stresses me out every day. But I have no computer training, so a job change is not in the cards. Besides, businesses don’t want to hire an “old” person like me. Because my job pays next to nothing, I began charging things on credit. What was I supposed to do? I’m now in deep credit-card debt and am desperate to find the funds to pay it off.
I’m a hard worker, but feel like a useless failure. Don’t tell me to see a counselor, because there is no money to pay for it. If my car dies on me, I’ll be walking six miles to work.
At this time in my so-called life, I thought I’d be better off than I am. Please tell me what I can do. — End of the Line
Dear End: The quality of your life should not be based solely on your financial situation. Can your husband help you pay off this debt? Surely he would want to be supportive. Also try Debtors Anonymous (debtorsanonymous.org). For a job, contact your local city hall or state government offices for help. Then try AARP (aarp.org), which offers information and resources for senior-friendly companies.
But also, please don’t disregard your depression. There is free and low-cost counseling available through your local county services, the YWCA, any graduate school counseling department or medical school psychology department, United Way, the Samaritan Institute (samaritaninstitute.org) and the Abraham Low Self-Help Systems (lowselfhelpsystems.org).
Dear Annie: I’ve considered writing every time I read about someone who thinks their spouse is having an affair. Facebook and other social media have opened the door to secret connections, contact with old flames and private conversations with co-workers. I didn’t fully understand the issue until I found that my husband was communicating with various other women this way.
I never expected this. My husband was an upstanding professional, and we had been married 25 years. When someone gets caught communicating with another and protests that “nothing happened,” what they mean is that they aren’t yet sexually involved. But a lot has happened. It’s a betrayal. Once a husband or wife closes a window to the spouse and opens it to another person, it creates an intimacy.
A better definition of an affair is that it’s something that violates trust. My husband and I now work every day to keep those windows open only to each other. He finally understands that it’s not sex that makes the affair. It’s taking your emotional passion and giving it to someone other than your spouse. — Trusting Again
Dear Trusting: We agree that trust is the bottom line of any relationship, providing the security and confidence that allow it to survive for the long haul. We are glad that you and your husband managed to work on this together and repair your marriage. Thank you for offering both good counsel and hope for others.
Dear Annie: Your answer to “Annoyed Grandma” about a grandchild with no boundaries was right on.
Our teenage daughter begged us to go to an unsupervised party, and we said no. Her friends even told us “everyone’s going.” In spite of her anger, we all made it through. Two years later, she said, “Remember the party I begged you to attend? I want to thank you for not giving in. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to lose face with my friends, and I used you as my excuse. I knew you wouldn’t let me down.” Tough love is worth it. — Mom of a Super (Now 52-Year-Old) Daughter
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.